‘Is this is what the most moral army in the world does!?’: An American student describes being shot by the Israeli military during a peaceful demonstration

Israel/Palestine

This video of today’s protest in Nabi Saleh was posted by Christopher Whitman. The caption says, “The last frame is me getting shot at close range with a high velocity tear gas canister.”

After posting earlier today about the Palestinian teen who was critically injured protesting in Silwan today, and an American activist who was shot at a protest in Nabi Saleh, that student, Christopher Whitman, contacted us and wanted to share his story. This is what he sent:

My name is Christopher Whitman from outside Boston, Massachusetts. I live in Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I am a Master’s student in the Hebrew University in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. I was in Al-Nabi Saleh today protesting against the 44 year Israeli occupation and its current policy of illegal land confiscation expand the range of settlements in the region which include Dolev, Halamish, and Nahalil (sp?).

The protest was different than the other times I had been at al-Nabi Saleh in the past. Those were usually similar to protests in Bil’in or Nil’in, but rougher. Starting with the soldiers setting up on all fronts of the village and then refusing the protestors (who are mainly children) from reaching their lands in parts of the village. This goes on until the soldiers start tear gassing and using sound bombs which results in stone throwing from youths. This day was different, very different.

For the first 3 hours there was minimal tear gas and average usage of sound bombs and the soldiers were allowing for the villagers to go to certain parts of the land with massive buildups around them. Children sang and danced to nationalist songs. Then after 3 hours or so the Israelis got rather bored and starting arresting Israeli activists and local Palestinians. They also started beating the villagers (including women of all ages), and spraying mace in the eyes of women and men alike. This is when the Israelis started to push everyone back, and the vast majority scattered into the houses. It should also be noted, not a single rock was thrown or anything to warrant this massive retaliation. Not a single one was thrown all day, let alone just before this massive beating.

I was in the street with just a few observers documenting the incident. I saw that they started shooting tear gas from a distance of 50ft (15m) which is far to close, and they were not shooting it into the air. I decided to duck and knee just a little and got nailed on the top of the head above my forehead. I almost fell completely to the ground. From there I was picked up by two Palestinians who brought me to the ambulance with blood over my head and face. I then pointed to my face as we passed the Israeli army and border police and yelled “is this is what the most moral army in the world does!?” And then I was put into the ambulance.

The paramedic cleaned up my wounds as best he could. I felt delirious and discombobulated. At one point the blood loss was so extreme the places in my body that were farthest from my heart (fingers, knees) began tensing to a point of no control and I felt like a cripple. The ambulance arrived at Ramallah Hospital 30 minutes later, but my treatment was delayed due to a strike. I saw many doctors, had x-rays, CT scans, and stitches free of charge. Many people who were at the protest came to see how I was and even had a gift given to me from the village…which was the piece of my head the was knocked off by the tear gas cannister (photo – warning graphic).

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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